Category: Community Engagement

Opening a doorway to culture through equine assisted learning

Mishkwiingwese (She Blushes), Kelsey Moore, Zhiishigwan (Shaker/Rattle), and Angela McGinnis stand at the entrance sign, which commemorates the four grandmother mares from which the Lac La Croix Indigenous Ponies at The Red Pony Stands® Ojibwe Horse Sanctuary descend. The seven ponies who reside at the Sanctuary, which is located near the Qu’Appelle valley, contain the two original bloodlines, the Keokuk and Nimkii lines. Their lineages date back to the four Original Mares from Lac La Croix First Nation and Bois Forte Band of Chippewa that were the last remaining in the world (Lilian, Biizhiki, Diamond, and Dark Face) who were strategically bred to a Spanish Mustang Stallion (Smokey) in 1977 in order to save the breed from extinction. (Source: www.theredponystands.com) Photo credit: Shuana Niessen

What is the connection between horses, educational psychology, and Indigenous youth and culture?

Reconnecting with cultural and traditional ways of knowing and being is increasingly seen as a significant part of the healing and learning process for First Nations peoples, whose culture has been historically and systemically oppressed by the colonization process. Language revitalization has been a key focus of cultural preservation and reclamation, but Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) is a relatively new and less understood approach to learning and healing, at least among the scientific community. For Indigenous peoples, however, horses have long been viewed as carriers of knowledge and healers. The preservation of the critically endangered Lac La Croix Indigenous Ponies, then, is part of the process of cultural reclamation and preservation, and thereby healing and learning, as relations between Indigenous horses and peoples are (re)established.

Dr. Angela McGinnis, an Assistant Professor of educational psychology in the Faculty of Education and an Indigenous Health Researcher, and her graduate student, Kelsey Moore, are conducting SIDRU-funded research to better understand how and why Indigenous youth benefit from working with Indigenous horses, specifically the seven Lac La Croix Indigenous Ponies being cared for by Angela and her partner Cullan McGinnis at The Red Pony Stands® Ojibwe Horse Sanctuary. Founded by Angela and Cullan, the Sanctuary “is an Indigenous owned and operated not-for-profit.” The Sanctuary receives some financial support by private and corporate sponsors and donors; however, these supports do not cover all of the costs: Angela says, “The majority of the work and expenses fall on my partner (Cullan) and I to keep the ponies happy and healthy, both physically and spiritually. Our mission is to protect, promote, and preserve the critically endangered Lac La Croix Indigenous Pony breed.”

Angela, Cullan, and the Lac La Croix Indigenous Ponies all originate from Treaty 3 territory in Northwestern Ontario. Horses have been part of Angela’s life from her earliest memories at her home in Fort Frances. “I have a picture of me on a horse before I could even walk,” says Angela. Her parents were caretakers of Lac La Croix Indigenous Ponies and Nez Perce horses. Angela credits her father as a mentor who has taught her a great deal from his knowledge of working with horses.

Reconnecting with her Métis/Ojibwe cultural identities has been a focus of Angela’s education and healing. Cultural connectedness was a central concept in her research at Western University, where she received a PhD in clinical psychology in 2015. As part of her doctoral research, Angela developed a measure to assist in determining the extent to which cultural connectedness is associated with health and well-being, specifically among First Nations youth. Angela’s findings indicate that cultural connectedness is a positive predictor of mental health. This is critical knowledge because, as Angela says, “the mental health and well-being of youth is one of the most urgent concerns affecting many First Nations communities across Canada.” Angela views her work in educational psychology as “a perfect fit” for the research in which she is engaged. She says healing and learning are inseparable: “You can’t have healing without learning, or learning without healing.”

Doodem (Clan), who is standing, is a 5-year-old sorrel stallion from Kichi Noodin off Ishkote. His genetically matched breeding partner, seen in the foreground, is Aazadi (Cottonwood Tree). Because the ponies are critically endangered, careful DNA testing must be done before the ponies can be bred to ensure their preservation. Photo credit: Shuana Niessen

Since completing her doctoral research, Angela has been seeking to understand how cultural connectedness can be developed through, what she calls, “real-world experiences,” which include strengthened relationships with the land and all its “more-than-human” creatures, particularly the Lac La Croix Indigenous Pony. Broadening health research to include the more-than-human world is important to Angela because, she says, “We need to situate well-being within a larger network of social relations, with both the human and more-than-human worlds. We need to focus beyond the individual and extend our understandings about health and well-being to living in relation to all else, not just for the present but for future generations as well.”

With her expertise in psychology and her passion for the preservation of the Lac La Croix Indigenous Pony breed, Angela is perfectly situated to bridge, in her words, “often seemingly conflicting world views… I understand Western mental health perspectives, but this work requires an understanding of Indigenous perspectives of holistic wellness to fully understand the role of the ponies in the resilience process.” Angela likens the loss of contact with Indigenous horses experienced by Indigenous communities to the loss of family members: “Part of their family has been ripped away,” she says. Reconnecting Indigenous youth and adults with Indigenous horses brings about “indescribable moments,” says Angela. These moments spark the ‘I remember when…’ stories told by Elders about the ponies and traditional ways of life and are, Angela believes, charged with healing potential. “These are moments that could potentially change someone’s life. To see that happening in front of you, it’s a privilege.” Angela felt especially privileged to hear of the repatriation of the Lac La Croix Indigenous Pony to Nigigoonsiminikaaning First Nation, from which her partner, Cullan, originates. She says, “I was completely moved by the return of three black geldings to this community.” During a recent visit to see the community’s ponies, Cullan had opportunity to meet the geldings for the first time. Angela says, “The reunion of these family members was so powerful—an emotional reuniting. The bond between the geldings and Cullan was instant. It’s a culturally specific relationship that dates back to pre-Colonial contact. This type of relationship can’t be replicated with any other breed of horse.”

Family Reunion. The three Lac La Croix Indigenous Ponies from Nigigoonsiminikaaning First Nation gather around Cullan (Waabinaanikwad) McGinnis at first meeting. Photo credit: Angela McGinnis

Reunions such as these lead to the beginning of relationships with the more-than-human world, and are what Angela calls a “doorway to the culture,” which can help youth make other cultural connections, such as ceremony. For instance, Angela and Cullan’s relationship with the Lac La Croix Indigenous Ponies at the Sanctuary has meant that they have sought guidance from local traditional Elders and engaged in horse-specific traditional ceremonies held in communities, such as the Horse Dance. Angela would like to share the doorway experience with her Educational Psychology students: “I want to help students step through that doorway. That’s how we understand how to help others, by experiencing it ourselves. And in return we help the ponies. That’s the whole mutual helping process, helping the horses in their fight against extinction. We need the Lac La Croix Indigenous Ponies as much as they need us,” says Angela. She plans to start bringing her students out to the Sanctuary for classes in Spring. A 20-foot tipi will be raised as Angela prepares to bring her students in contact with the ponies and the land.

Master’s student Kelsey Moore, who received a B.Ed. in Indigenous Education from First Nations University of Canada, is now undertaking her M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Regina under the supervision of Dr. McGinnis and the mentorship of Life Speaker Noel Starblanket. Kelsey is Métis and grew up in Yorkton. Her lifelong passion for horses began with several summers spent working with youth at horse camps and riding stables and continued with her experience of getting to know the Curly Horse breed at her inlaws’ farm. Her thesis research question perfectly intersects with Angela’s interest in understanding and offering evidence-based research to explain how and why Indigenous youth benefit in both educational outcomes and mental health, through establishing relationships with horses and how Equine Assisted Learning programs can be successfully culturally adapted.

Angela, Mishkwiingwese (She Blushes), and Kelsey demonstrate a teamwork exercise, learned at the EAL certification course. Photo credit: Shuana Niessen

Kelsey and Angela are amazed to have found each other. Angela says, “What are the chances of me finding a student who wants to work with Indigenous horses?” The two researchers are working toward the same ends as those involved in language revitalization: “We are all tackling a shared goal: Cultural preservation,” Angela says. The actual preservation of the critically endangered Lac La Croix Indigenous Pony extends as a metaphor for cultural and identity preservation: “Their mere presence is a counternarrative to the colonial narrative of the extinction of Indigenous horses to the Americas,” says Angela. Indeed, the Lac La Croix Indigenous Pony’s survival itself inspires hope. But beyond that, Angela feels that interaction with Indigenous horses gives “Indigenous youth opportunities to connect with horses who have resilience and strength, like their own, that they can identify with, a culturally specific story,” she says.

What exactly is Equine Assisted Learning (EAL)?

Snowshoe and Starblanket (2016) state that EAL “is a relatively new approach to knowledge acquisition that draws primarily on the tenets of experiential learning, that is, learning through hands-on experience with the horse (Dell, Chalmers, Dell, Sauve, & MacKinnon, 2008).”

To deepen her understanding of EAL, Kelsey received EAL certification in August at Cartier Farms, near Prince Albert. Cartier Farms teaches that establishing an experiential hands-on working relationship with horses, with their sensitivity, non-verbal communications, resilience, and forgiving ways, can be an effective approach to learning, to self-knowledge, and to self-evaluation.

Angela, who has been guided by the traditional Elders, Knowledge Keepers, and communities with whom she has worked, sees the potential for healing and learning in culturally adapted EAL. Angela views horses as “more-than-human co-constructors of knowledge.” Horses have much to teach us about the land and living on the land, she says. Elders and Knowledge Keepers have taught Angela that, with their four feet always on the ground, horses have a greater connection with Mother Earth, and through this connection, the Creator. Thus, traditionally, horses have been considered a source of maintaining and recovering holistic wellness.

Upon the arrival of Angela’s first Pony at the Sanctuary, a beautiful stallion, affectionately named Sagineshkawa (Pleasure with my Arrival), she says, “I realized that I should not rush things. I needed to slow down and have humility, especially around a powerful being like a horse…This was the horse that I had to pay attention to and listen to spiritually.” Angela is grateful to all her ponies for their patience in teaching her. Kelsey’s experiences with horses have similarly given her the understanding that she must “slow down and be present in the moment,” she says. “Helping humans slow down is a way that the horses care for us,” says Angela. She views the horse-human relationship as one of mutual caring: “We are caretakers of them and the land, but the ponies also take care of us.”

Yet, there is an urgency that requires speed in this research due to the need for Indigenous youth to be able to access culturally adapted healing and learning programs. As a mother of a toddler, Kelsey had intended to move a bit slower with her research, but she says everything is moving much quicker than she planned or expected. Kelsey’s research, using what Angela describes as “a pure Indigenous research method,” seeks to understand the spiritual and cultural connections between Indigenous youth and Indigenous horses. Incorporating ceremony as research, Kelsey is documenting her interactions and deep listening experiences with the ponies, along with the conversations she has with Elders and Knowledge Keepers to make sense of what she observes.

The two researchers are already envisioning and talking about future plans. Angela says, “We hope to apply for an operating grant to help Kelsey set up her own Indigenous-centered Equine-Assisted Learning and healing program in the community, following the completion of her academic work.”

The Sanctuary has recently gained international attention. It will be featured in a short documentary film currently being produced by National Geographic as part of the Natural Connections Project. The film will document how EAL contributes to the well-being of First Nations youth. Through the film, Angela hopes to showcase “how Indigenous communities are using horses to connect with culture, strengthen positive relationships, and learn through activities with horses and nature.”

By Shuana Niessen

Credits for photos below: Shuana Niessen 2018

One student’s journey toward reconciliation

“I know in the long run it isn’t much at all, but in my way, in my journey to reconciliation, I can do this one thing.”

Aysha Yaqoob is no stranger to feelings of discomfort and dislocation. Born in Saudi Arabia and immigrating to Canada at the age of 2 with her parents, who were originally from Pakistan, Yaqoob’s early years were spent moving from place to place in the Greater Toronto Area. Then, in 2008, her family moved to Saskatoon, where Aysha attended school from Grade 7 to 12.

Attending 15 different schools during her K-12 years gave Aysha keen insight into feelings of marginality, which were amplified by being a visibly Muslim student. The lack of representation she saw in professional roles combined with her feelings of marginality sparked a desire in Aysha to work with marginal and at-risk youth, and influenced her decision to become an English teacher.

“In high school I had a great group of English teachers, and they hung out in a nice pack. It was there where I saw how dedicated they were and how fun teaching could be, and I observed their interest in teaching us not only about Shakespeare and poetry, but also about real world problems. However, there were no teachers that looked like me; all the teachers were White, and I wondered, ‘If I feel this, other students must feel this as well.’”

Dr. Mike Cappello and Aysha Yaqoob, Spring Convocation 2018

University gave Aysha a sense of control over her learning: “I had full autonomy of where I wanted to push my learning. I remember sitting in Mike Cappello’s ECS class, and seeing a White male talking so strongly about White privilege and what it means to oppress students of colour, and me being one of the very few students in our program who were of colour, and Muslim, visibly Muslim; it felt weird to see someone saying the words I could relate to.” Aysha wanted to learn more about representation: “After that, in every single class I took, I wanted to explore more into representation, and representing marginal and Indigenous students. All my profs were so willing to let me do assignments, I never had a prof who said you have to stick with my assignment. It was so great, I got to push my education and learning in areas that I was interested in. I was really able to shape my journey the way I wanted.”

These experiences changed how Aysha viewed education. She says, “It made me see that there are teachers who are trying to change the system right now, and trying to make students of colour feel represented and welcome. It was so nice.”

Dr. Jenn de Lugt and Aysha Yaqoob, Convocation Spring 2018

Up to that point, Aysha says she had been quiet and shy, but feeling supported at University helped her find and use her voice. “I remember that during the time when the Muslim ban was going on, I got up in front of my peers and let them know how I felt, how cornered and unsupported I felt. I invited them to a vigil at Victoria Park…Even talking about this gives me goose bumps. Just seeing all of the support I had from my peers and colleagues and professors made me want to speak up about these issues all the more. Since then I’ve been a non-stop machine; I don’t have an off button,” she says.

In 2017, as part of the Education Students’ Society executive, Aysha organized a Professional Development event called Meet-a-Muslim. She says, “I wanted to dispel misinformation about Muslims, so I invited everyone to come out and hear what it was like growing up Muslim, and about how the travel ban was affecting us. I wanted it to be an open safe space to ask questions and dialogue.” For people who are often misportrayed, Aysha explains “My go-to is to just ask questions. I’d rather you ask a billion questions than just assume.” In her quest for how to go about designing the event, Drs. Jennifer Tupper and Mike Cappello advised her to have an open dialogue with a panel. In hindsight, Aysha is glad about the panel format: “It was great that it was that way because a lot of topics came up that I wouldn’t have touched on because for me they were everyday things, even questions about why I wear the hijab and why my sister doesn’t, basic questions about Islam, and my view point on conflicts around the world. I’m not a token representative of all Muslims, so the panel gave a variety of viewpoints,” she says. The event was well-attended, one of the busiest ESS events that year, with 50-60 people attending. CBC covered the event and it was also live-streamed on Facebook.

Aysha at Convocation in Spring 2018. Photo credit: Shuana Niessen

“My parents look at me now, and they are surprised too, saying ‘You were never like this; you were so quiet and felt uncomfortable with public speaking.’ Now every chance I get, I’m out there.” Aysha credits her transformation as growing out of her experience of feeling supported by her peers and professors: It was “having that moment where I felt enough support to be vulnerable and express how I felt, and sharing that ‘your silence is hurting me,’ and getting their response in return,” she says.

Still quiet in some ways, Aysha likes to achieve extraordinary things while maintaining a low profile. Though she only walked the Faculty of Education’s halls for four years, Aysha managed to earn both a B.Ed. (English Language Arts and Social Studies) and a B. A. in English. Students typically take five years to finish a combined degree program, but Aysha, taking between six and eight classes per term, finished in four years. Aysha laughs, saying, “Nicole Glas, [Student Services Coordinator] asked her ‘Are you sure?’ I said ‘absolutely,’ but I got to the point where I wasn’t sure…I even had a course during internship!”

Pencils of Hope
As if squeezing a 5-year program into four years wasn’t enough, along with serving in the Education Students’ Society for two years (one as VP of Communications), and organizing Meet-a-Muslim night, Aysha maintained her own photography business, and founded a charitable organization called Pencils of Hope.

It was during her second term of University that a plan to support marginalized youth formed in her mind: “The principal from Chief Kahkewistahaw Community School, came in to our class to talk about schooling and education and how it is important for U of R grads to go out on reserves and experience teaching there. I chatted with him later about funding, and learned that federal funding on reserves, and schools on reserves, is significantly less than funding for schools off reserves. I had thought all schools were the same! I remember going home to my parents and talking about it: ‘I want to do something; already there’s such a drastic change between conditions on and off reserves. And all the discrimination that goes on…it doesn’t seem right that in education, especially,—we say Canada has such great education and equal access to education but it doesn’t seem like it.’ So, my parents asked me what I wanted to do. I said ‘I don’t know, but I want to do something.’ Over breakfast, we talked about names, and I thought ‘Pencils of Hope’ was a good name and my dad said, ‘What do you want to do with that?’ I talked to the principal again, and I said, ‘Why don’t I try this? I’m a photographer by hobby. I’ll donate everything I make through photography to this cause. If I can get enough funds, will you accept my gift of supplies to this school?’ I tried it out my first year and it worked out really well.”

Since then the organization has “snowballed,” says Aysha. Sponsors started making small donations. A committee was formed. For the first three years, Pencils of Hope partnered with one school each year. But this year, the committee decided to partner with four schools. “Four schools was a huge difference. We received a grant from Taking it Global, which offered a rising youth grant.”

Donations and, therefore, spending has increased substantially over the four years of existence. The first year the group spent $750 on supplies and this year they spent over $4000, with carry over for next year. Pencils of Hope has made some changes to their vision as well: “This year we’ve changed our vision to match the Calls to Action. So from here on out we made a vow to partner with at least one school on a reserve.” The group is also making supplies available to individual students who may not be in a school that is in partnership with Pencils of Hope.

For Aysha, this work has been part of her journey toward reconciliation. “I know in the long run it isn’t much at all, but in my way, in my journey to reconciliation, I can do this one thing.”

Doing this project in a good way, a humble way, has been one of Aysha’s goals: “When we talk about Pencils of Hope, I don’t like to be called the founder. It is still a journey, still a process; I’m still learning, of course. Meeting with different elders and profs and being able to exchange knowledge, learn indigenous ways of knowing and culture, and how to go about this in a more humble way, it’s been very uncomfortable, but it’s been a great kind of uncomfortable…It’s not learning if it’s not uncomfortable.”

Aysha has learned many things along her journey, but one thing stands out in her mind, “It’s hard doing it alone, not fun to do it alone.” She advises others who would like to do something similar to, “Get many people involved and see what they will do.”

Now a first-year teacher at Balfour Collegiate, Aysha plans to carry on with the work of Pencils of Hope, with the support of her committee, family and community. “I anticipate it is going to be busy, but to me that is a good thing, to me that means more schools and more partnerships, and more relationships—expanding.”
By Shuana Niessen

Q & A with Bac faculty member selected to represent Canada in discussions for developing language awareness

European Centre for Modern Languages think tank discussion participants. Photo courtesy of Joël Thibeault

Programme du baccalauréat en éducation faculty member Dr. Joël Thibeault was selected by the European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML) as a representative of Canada and the University of Ottawa’s Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute to take part in think tank discussions for developing language awareness in subject classes, within the ECML’s “Languages at the heart of learning” programme 2016-2019. The gathering, held November 16-17, was located in Graz, Austria.

Q & A with Dr. Joël Thibeault

The ECML views language education as key in responding to linguistic and cultural diversity, in achieving intercultural dialogue, democratic citizenship, and social cohesion.

What was the specific focus of the discussions you were part of?

Through this think tank, the ECLM gathered an array of educational professionals – professors, teachers, and policy makers – to engage in discussions on the inclusion of linguistic content in different school subjects. The goal of this initiative is to provide practical procedures that will help teachers in the identification of their students’ needs in different subjects and to provide examples of scaffolded materials which, based upon the learner’s language awareness, will address their needs in different disciplines at school.

In what ways is the University of Regina, Faculty of Education, (Bac programme) working to address/redress the issue of quality language education?

The Bac program aims at offering a quality education to future teachers, most of whom will teach in French immersion. As such, in their career, these teachers will not only have to worry about teaching their subject (mathematics, history, etc.), but also they will have to do so in their learners’ second language. Therefore, future teachers must consider the linguistic structures through which content is taught and, if need be, help students develop the linguistic knowledge they will need to construct new competencies in these disciplines. Of course, every teacher, whether in immersion or not, should always worry about language in the teaching of a non-linguistic discipline. However, this focus on language should probably be more present when the language of schooling is the learner’s second language. The Bac program, therefore, puts a lot of emphasis of articulating content and language, and my participation at the ECML’s workshop will help us expand on this topic.

Does this opportunity promote international connections and research?

This was probably the best part of this workshop; I got to meet more than 30 educational experts who came from all across Europe. It was also great that ECML invited people in academia, such as myself, but also invited teachers and decision makers. Everybody came with their own perspective, which contributed to rich discussions and group work.

What was the value of this experience for yourself, for Canada, and for the field of study?

Academics have been talking about the integration of language and content for many years now, but there seems to be a lack in concrete resources for teachers. I think that by bringing different perspectives together the ECML will be able to provide a wide variety of resources which, on the one hand, will be based on the most recent research on the topic and, on the other, will rely on the heterogeneity of expertise that was gathered during the workshop.

 

 

The stories of Windsor through carto elicitation exhibit

The stories of Windsor through carto elicitation exhibit

Terry Sefton and Kathryn Ricketts

October 21, 2017 – January 28, 2018

The Art Gallery of Windsor

Downtown/s: Urban Renewal Today for Tomorrow, The 2017 Art Gallery of Windsor Triennial of Contemporary Art

This project investigates experimental spaces with dance/music/story/place.

Terry Sefton from Windsor (cellist) and Kathryn Ricketts from Regina (dancer) have been experimenting through residencies in the Listening Lab at the University of Regina with a term we are calling “carto-elicitation.”

We propose these stories are underpinned by specificity of place and plan to extend the artefact provocation of Anthropology of the Discard with cartographic elicitations to test if this is true.

We will request that the participants of this exhibition target a place that holds a potent memory, perhaps the first time or the last time something happened. Maps are provided in the gallery space where brief poetics are combined with cartographic identifiers. This is combined with an online mapping which captures the mapped and verbal stories and this collective map is projected with sound files of the stories running throughout the visiting hours of the exhibition. This virtual addition to the exhibition will be facilitated by an app that can be easily accessed on or off site.

Finally, Kathryn and Terry will perform the Windsor Stories live with live cello and dance/theatre improvisations based on the improvisations systems they have defined throughout their residencies together. This work together will be an unfolding narrative of the stories that linger in the place of Windsor.

This work is part of an upcoming exhibition at the Windsor Art Gallery titled Downtown/s Urban Renewal: Today for Tomorrow, the 2017Art Gallery of Windsor’s Triennial of Contemporary Art.

The exhibit runs form October 21, 2017 – January 28, 2018 and will accumulate public stories of Windsor through video and performances over this period.

For more information please contact
Kathryn Ricketts at 604-788-4022 or rickettk@uregina.ca

Bios:

Terry Sefton began playing professionally with the Regina Symphony while still in her teens, and worked with the BBC Welsh Orchestra, the Canadian Opera Company, and Orchestra London Canada for over 30 years. She has performed as a chamber musician in Canada, the US, Britain, and France. Over many years, she has worked with contemporary composers, developing and performing new works, at a number of new music venues including Concerts de Musique Contemporaine in Montreal, the Music Gallery in Toronto, and Aeolian Hall and Museum London in London, Ontario, and the Listening Lab in Regina, Saskatchewan. Terry most recently commissioned new works by composers Martin Kutnowski (St. Thomas University, 2016) and Bentley Jarvis (Ontario College of Art and Design University, 2015), and developed improvised performances of carto-elicitation with Kathryn Ricketts (University of Regina, 2016; University of Windsor, 2017). Terry Sefton holds a Bachelor of Music in Performance from McGill University, a Master of Education from University of Western Ontario, and a PhD from University of Toronto. Dr. Sefton is Associate Professor at the University of Windsor.

Kathryn Ricketts has been working for the past 35 years in the field of movement, theatre and visual arts, presenting throughout Europe, South America, Africa and Canada. Her work in schools, galleries and community centers focuses on social /political issues with movement, theatre, creative writing and visual art as the languages. Her Doctoral research furthered this into areas of literacy, embodiment and cultural studies with a method she has coined Embodied Poetic Narrative.  She is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education in the University of Regina as the chair of the Dance area. She runs The Listening Lab, a visual and performing arts ‘incubator’ and presents exhibitions and performances in her loft in the John Deere Tractor Building.

Read description of project

Reconciliation Garden

In spring 2017, The Faculty of Education’s Indigenous Family Therapies Class (EPSY 870AB) in partnership with the Indigenous Peoples’ Health Research Centre (IPHRC) have planted a Project of Heart Reconciliation Garden.

The Objectives of this project in our class were:

• To present a culturally-competent counseling intervention by integrating Indigenous knowledge within the more modern ecopsychology approach;
• To encourage a three-way therapeutic alliance between counselor, client, and nature as co-therapist;
• To deconstruct the modern therapeutic “space” by promoting nature-based therapeutic interventions; and
• To identify gardening as a social justice approach.

We based our garden design around the Honouring Memories Planting Dreams

Celebrated in May and June, Honouring Memories, Planting Dreams invites individuals and organizations to join in reconciliation by planting heart gardens in their communities. Heart gardens honour residential school survivors and their families, as well as the legacy of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Each heart represents the memory of a child lost to the residential school system, and the act of planting represents that individual’s commitment to finding their place in reconciliation. In 2016, more than 6500 hearts were planted in gardens across Canada.

Videos



For more information about the Reconciliation garden, please contact:

JoLee Sasakamoose – JoLee.Sasakamoose@uregina.ca
John Klein – John.Klein@uregina.ca

Gallery
Reposting from https://reginaediblecampus.wordpress.com/le-potager/

Supporting the achievements of Aboriginal students in numeracy

In late December of 2016, Dr. Gale Russell was invited by the Student Achievement Support Unit within the Manitoba Ministry of Education to attend their second Mamtowisiwin session that was focused on supporting the achievement of Aboriginal students in the area of numeracy. By the end of an hour-long conversation with members of the unit, the invitation had extended from presenting on the first day of the two-day event, to offering a two-day workshop.

Gale accepted and presented a workshop on February 8 and 9, 2017. In attendance were over 140 school division directors, mathematics consultants/superintendents, Aboriginal consultants/superintendents, Manitoba Ministry of Education personnel, principals, vice principals, teachers, and pre-service teachers.

Gale says, “It was a great two days, filled with lots of exploration and discussion of diverse, yet interconnected topics including: mathematics – what it is, what it could be, and what it should be; the Traditional Western and an Indigenous worldview, supporting Aboriginal students in mathematics, supporting all students in mathematics, and how to ‘deal with’ systemic factors beyond their control (such as standardized testing and grading policies. It was a time of seriousness, laughter, and even tears. And, everyone did their homework – both reading articles and counting squares. It was also a great pleasure to meet and work with the invited Elder for the two days, Florence Paynter, a retired educator and scholar, who shared many stories and much wisdom with the group.”

Since the workshop, Gale has been regularly receiving emails from attendees with specific and general questions, as well as an invitation to come and spend the day with the Manitoba Association of Mathematics Teachers on their PD day in October. Gale says, “I have happily accepted the invitation, and look forward to yet another experience of deep insights, thought-provoking discussions, and lessons to be learned, challenged, and unlearned.”

Tupper stresses importance of McDowell Foundation in current climate

Jennifer Tupper, dean of the Faculty of Education at the University of Regina, spoke passionately about the importance of the McDowell Foundation and its commitment to action research. Photo: Jens Nielsen

In her keynote address to the McDowell Foundation’s 25th anniversary gala, Jennifer Tupper, dean of the Faculty of Education at the University of Regina, told those in attendance that the work of the McDowell Foundation, and its support for teacher inquiry and research, is more important than ever.

Tupper expressed her grave concerns for PreK-12 education in Saskatchewan and elsewhere, citing political, social and economic times that leave us with much uncertainty when it comes to the current educational landscape in the province.

“There is less government support for publicly funded education, less respect and support for the important work of teachers, and increasingly complex and diverse classroom realities that teachers must negotiate in good ways every day with fewer resources at their disposal,” Tupper suggested.

While pledging her deep respect for “each one of you in this room for the contributions you are making to the lives of children and youth in the province,” Tupper drew on her personal experience as a McDowell researcher.

“Since 1991 when it was formed, the McDowell Foundation has supported an amazing legacy of teacher-led research with real, immediate and lasting educational effects by funding almost 300 projects.”

According to Tupper, “if we believe, as educators, that our role is to teach for a better world, then the McDowell Foundation is an important avenue of support for this work which can be, as you all know because you live it, very challenging, emotional, frustrating, but that can also be tremendously rewarding and indeed transformational.”

As an academic herself, Tupper shared how research projects at universities can be a painstakingly slow and circuitous process while clinging to the hope that others will ultimately read the published articles at the culmination of the research.

“Sometimes, the time between finishing our research and publishing is up to five years. Sometimes it is years before we have evidence that our research has been taken up by other academics in other universities around the world,” Tupper shared.

Against that backdrop Tupper said it was her aim to highlight the real and immediate value of the teacher-led research funded by the McDowell Foundation.

“This organization, which is relatively unique in Canada, is one that we must all value, support, and continue to advocate for now and in the future, and especially because these are such precarious times.

“The McDowell Foundation is about research that has an impact. Your commitment to transforming Saskatchewan classrooms and teaching for a better world is where hope resides in this post-truth and precarious world we find ourselves in. Together we are stronger.”

Posted: 03/13/17 12:00am CST